(USA Features) Federal judges appointed by former President Donald Trump are so far serving as a major bulwark against the most liberal policies President Joe Biden has tried to implement through executive orders, according to court watchers and legal experts.
“What you’re seeing is that ‘pen and phone’ initiatives are running into legal trouble right off the bat,” Ilya Shapiro, the vice president and director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, told Fox News on Friday.
“Trump appointed a lot of judges — more than anyone in one term than Jimmy Carter, for whom Congress created 152 new judgeships to fill — and these folks aren’t as deferential to executive power as past Republican-appointed judges might have been,” he added.
Nearly all of Trump’s judicial appointments were vetted by the Federalist Society, a legal organization comprised of conservatives and libertarians who advocate for originalist interpretations of the Constitution.
Though the country is only a few months into Biden’s term and higher courts could eventually overturn lower court decisions, “Trump-appointed judges have ruled against the president on immigration, COVID relief, the environment and more,” Fox News added.
One of the more recent decisions against the Biden administration came from U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana, who implemented a nationwide injunction on the president’s “pause” in issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Doughty ruled that the Executive Branch lacks the authority to overrule duly-passed laws that require the administration to sell the leases.
“Although there is certainly nothing wrong with performing a comprehensive review, there is a problem in ignoring acts of Congress while the review is being completed,” Doughty wrote in his opinion.
In another case, U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar of the Sixth Circuit, who was on the shortlist of Trump Supreme Court nominees, ruled that a provision in the coronavirus stimulus law using race and sex to prioritize which restaurant owners got aid first was unconstitutional.
“This case is about whether the government can allocate limited coronavirus relief funds based on the race and sex of the applicants. We hold that it cannot,” Thapar wrote.
“Because these race-neutral alternatives exist, the government’s use of race is unconstitutional,” he continued. “Aside from the existence of race-neutral alternatives, the government’s use of racial preferences is both overbroad and underinclusive.”
One of the earliest instances of a Trump-appointed federal judge siding against the administration was when U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton ruled that Biden did not have the authority to order a pause in deportations of illegal immigrants.
And U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich recently vacated a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) moratorium on evictions as unlawful, but she stayed her own ruling to give the government time to respond. That case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“President Trump’s judges have shown an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution so it’s not surprising to see opinions reining in executive overreach from the Biden administration,” Carrie Severino, the president of the right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network, told Fox News.
Other non-Trump appointed judges who were sent to the federal bench by other Republican presidents have also handed the Biden administration losses, the network added.
They include U.S. District Judge William Griesbach, a George W. Bush appointee, who halted a Dept. of Agriculture program that provided loan forgiveness to farmers of color to the exclusion of white farmers.
“The obvious response to a government agency that claims it continues to discriminate against farmers because of their race or national origin is to direct it to stop: it is not to direct it to intentionally discriminate against others on the basis of their race and national origin,” Griesbach wrote.
“Indeed, Congress can implement race-neutral programs to help farmers and ranchers in need of financial assistance,” he continued. “But it cannot discriminate on the basis of race.”